Portsmouth Cathedral wins £90,000 Heritage Lottery Fund support for conservation project

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Portsmouth Cathedral has received £90,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project to conserve and repair the medieval roofs of the Cathedral, which form the oldest and historically most important part of the Cathedral.

The process of selecting a suitable contractor to undertake the project will now commence and the work on the roofs will start in September and should be complete by the end of 2012.

As well as the conservation of the Cathedral’s historic fabric the project will provide a range of opportunities and activities for a broad cross section of the community to engage with the heritage of the Cathedral. These include guided tours and seminars, which will be available for local residents, members of the congregation, members of the Friends of Old Portsmouth Association and visitors to the Cathedral. Similar opportunities will be provided to students in the Architecture Department of Portsmouth University and primary and secondary schools within the Diocese. The project will also provide the Cathedral Guides with an opportunity to improve their presentational skills relating to the Cathedral’s heritage. A documentary film will be made to record the conservation work and the engagement of the community with the project.

The Cathedral is a Grade 1 listed building, which dates back to the 12th century. The exterior of the Cathedral is buffeted by strong salt laden rain and wind and deterioration of the roof finishes now requires remedial action, particularly given its exposed location. The roofs requiring repair are to the most important historically and architecturally significant areas of the Cathedral, being the earliest part of the building with mediaeval fabric; these need to be urgently repaired on a like-for-like basis to provide a long lasting durable finish. The repair work will allay deterioration, the probability of water ingress and thus avoid damage to nationally important historic fabric.

Commenting on the award, The Dean of Portsmouth, The Very Reverend David Brindley said: ‘We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident that the project will not only conserve this important part of the Cathedral’s medieval fabric, but will also provide a wide variety of opportunities for the Cathedral community and young people ranging from primary school age to students in the Architecture Department of Portsmouth University to learn about this unique aspect of their heritage.’

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the head of the HLF in the South East, Stuart McLeod, said: ‘This project will enable vital repairs to one of the city’s most important and historic buildings to be undertaken. But not only this, it will provide local people, from primary schoolchildren to adults, with fascinating new opportunities to learn more about the Cathedral and the stories it has to tell.’